What is Vedas? What was the nature of worship of the Aryans?
The oldest literature of the Aryan is known collectively as Vedas, which means ‘knowledge’—the best of the knowledge in Hindu eyes. For most people, Vedas are four, the earliest of them being the Rig Veda, parts of which were originally composed prior to 1000 B.C. The remaining Vedic literature— the Sama, Yalta and Atharva Veda is of later date.
Contents of the Veda
The essential fundamental part of each of the four Vedas is Samhita or collection of humus and prayers in verse. But certain supplementary writings are also considered to be actually part of the Vedas. These supplements written in prose are the Brahmans and Upanishads.
The Brahmans are theological and ritual treatises containing precepts of sacrifice, stories and traditions. At the end of the Brahmans are given treatises named Aranyakas or ‘books of the forest.
The Upanishads, philosophical treatises of a profound character, belong to the last stage of Brahmana literature.
Religion and nature of worship of Aryans
Briefly stated, the early Aryan religion was kind of nature worship. Actually the forces around them which they could not control or understand were invested with divinity and were personified as male or female gods. Indra was the god of thunder, rainmaker. Agni of fire in his three forms the sun ill the heavens, the lightning, and the terrestrial fire. Other gods were Varuna (the sky god proper), Prithvi (earth), Surya (sun), Savitri, a solar deity to whom the famous gayatri mantra is dedicated.
There is no mention of temples and no indication of image worship. The central feature of Aryan religious life was, however, sacrifice. It consisted of offering of milk, grain, ghee, flesh, and soma (intoxicating juice). Offerings were also paid to the ancestors.
The idea of one God
All this ritualistic religion, however, culminated in a profound philosophy, the chief characteristics of which are a trend towards monotheism. The multiplicity of gods is frankly and boldly questioned, and in the tenth Mandala of the Rig Veda the idea of one god only, without a second is clearly expressed.